Prepping for climate change with resilient buildings in NYC

Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call for many Americans who never expected to see climate change on their doorstep. The superstorm ravaged New York City and surrounding metro areas with disastrous flooding and power outages.

In its wake, the city has begun to take the threat of climate change seriously, seeking any and all strategies that will protect the country’s most populous city from further destruction.

When contemplating ways to hold back a rising sea, someone’s bound to suggest building a wall. Indeed, NYC is exploring the option of a sophisticated sea-barrier or creating “deployable flood walls.” But in addition to this obvious tactic, they’re also looking for ways to encourage resilient building design–the concept of building structures that are prepared for Mother Nature’s fury.

Image via ruanon

Bloomberg’s recently announced Climate Resiliency Plan recommends investing $19.5 billion in climate change-ready infrastructure, but acknowledges that this alone won’t prevent a repeat of Hurricane Sandy’s carnage. “Buildings themselves will also have to change,” says Bloomberg.

The plan proposes a number of policy changes that would support the creation of buildings better suited to survival in a changing world. “Height restrictions are identified as a regulatory barrier to elevated designs, so it is proposed that these be waived for buildings in the 100-year floodplain,” explains’s Candace Pearson. “It is also recommended that the city increase building code requirements for enduring higher wind loads and create a $1.2 billion incentive program for homeowners who make resilience retrofits (measures must include elevating core building equipment and adding structural reinforcements for one- or two-story buildings).”

By implementing these changes, many of which are tailor made for each of the most populated boroughs, it’s hoped that buildings will be able to “better withstand severe conditions, maintain levels of livability for residents, and bounce back quickly after a disaster.”

Read the entire NYC plan for resilient buildings [pdf].

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling